SRH and Society

Culture, Society & Sex

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Understanding Gender Roles and Equality

Gender equality is defined as both men and women experiencing the same rights and opportunities across all sections of society, including politics, economic participation, and general society. Accordingly, in a society with gender equality the behaviours, goals and needs of both women and men are valued.

Gender roles are the prescribed behaviours and responsibilities given to men and women according to the social norms of a country or social group. Gender roles can and have evolved over time, especially with the empowerment of women and the movement towards gender equality.

Gender and Society

Gender is typically viewed as a binary concept determined at birth, meaning one can either be male or female. However, an Indonesian ethnic group known as the Bugis have a differing view on gender. In this ethnic group, gender is viewed on a spectrum from male to female, including variations of combinations with different ‘strengths’ of femininity and masculinity. This type of thinking has become more popular in modern times as it is comprehensive of the various gender identities that can be found throughout society. In Indonesia, transgender individuals are legally acknowledged as they can select transgender on their identity card.

Sex and the Law in Indonesia

In Indonesia, the age of sexual consent is 16 between couples of different genders. Accordingly, if a person who, out of marriage, engages in sexual behaviours with someone below the age of 16 years may face imprisonment for a maximum of 9 years. The age of sexual consent is 18 between couples of the same gender. Any adult who commits any sexual act with an individual of the same gender under the age of 18 may face imprisonment for a maximum of 5 years. Marital rape, which refers to any person who forces sexual intercourse against an individual within the scope of the household, is against the law.

Sex and Western and Eastern Media

The media exposes people, especially adolescents, to many sexual images and messages. These images and messages are often positive; however, they do not acknowledge the risks and consequences of sexual activity. This means that many youths gain their knowledge about sex from the media, but it is important that youths gain more accurate and informed information from credible sources, such as this website. Indonesian youths are being more increasingly exposed to ‘western’ or more globalised ideas of sex and sexuality with the modernisation that has been occurring in Indonesia in recent years. These images of sex contrasts significantly to traditional Eastern views of sex, which align more closely with Islamic values.


Concepts and definitions. (2019). Retrieved from https://eige.europa.eu/gender-mainstreaming/concepts-and-definitions

Davies, S. (2016). What the world can learn about gender from an Indonesian ethnic group. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/06/what-the-world-can-learn-about-gender-from-an-indonesian-ethnic-group/

Gender Equality in Ireland. (n.d.). What is gender equality?. Retrieved from http://www.genderequality.ie/en/GE/Pages/WhatisGE

Gurber, E., & Grube, J. (2000). Adolescent sexuality and the media: a review of current knowledge and implications. Western Journal of Medicine, 172(3), 210-214, doi: 10.1136%2Fewjm.172.3.210

Harding, C. (2008). The influence of the ‘decadent west’: discourses of the mass media on youth sexuality in Indonesia. Retrieved from http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue18/harding.htm

National Sexual Rights Law and Policy Database. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sexualrightsdatabase.org/static/country-373.html